“A ‘Western’ in the sense that Lonesome Dove was a Western. It transcends the genre, a great and true American novel.”—Douglas Preston, Coauthor of Gideon’s Corpse
“A compelling and richly imagined epic.” —Margaret Coel, Author of Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now
“An expansive, lyrical period Western in the tradition of A. B. Guthrie, Jr. and Larry McMurtry. Savor this one—they don’t make cowboy epics like this anymore.” —Hampton Sides, Bestselling Author of Hellhound on His Trail
“Hard Country is aptly titled, and the reader will take a spectacular journey with real people settling the West. There is inescapable action of the gun, the earth, the sky, and the heart.”—Max Evans, Author of The One Eyed Sky
“McGarrity is an accomplished storyteller, and he writes with clarity, perception, and authenticity.” —N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer Prize–winning Author of House Made of Dawn
This sprawling western saga shakes trail dust through three generations of New Mexico ranchers carving out a place in the Tularosa Basin at the end of the frontier era. McGarrity, a former Santa Fe deputy sheriff and author of the long-running Kevin Kerney mystery series, gives his police chief protagonist a familiar family backstory, sending Civil War veteran John Kerney to the New Mexico territory to establish a ranch in an era when work was tough, cowboys were tougher, and daily life was an uncertain proposition. McGarrity knows and loves the harsh landscape, but his characters are sparely drawn, and the emotionally stunted, suspicious, and compulsively misanthropic Patrick Kerney makes for a difficult protagonist to carry the family saga element of this expansive novel. Insights are spelled out, rather than shown. “The forsaken, lost little boy who lived inside of Patrick made him who he was, but that didn’t give him the right to bully her,” and the frequent cowboy talk is laid on too thickly. But fans of McGarrity’s modern police procedurals will appreciate his chronicle of a time and place that he obviously cares for. (May 10)
"Michael McGarrity's epic western Hard Country is awesome in its scope. There hasn't been anything like it in quite a while. I was taken back to sagas such as A.B. Guthrie Jr's The Big Sky and The Way West as well as Vardis Fisher's Mountain Man and Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. This is a big story with big characters in a big land." -- David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Brotherhood of the Rose
"Hard Country is the evocation of real people in a real land. McGarrity is an accomplished storyteller, and he writes with clarity, perception, and authenticity. Those who read this novel will find it engaging, and they will come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Old West and of the part it played in forging the American imagination." -- N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer Prize winning author of House Made of Dawn, The Way to Rainy Mountain, In the Bear's House, and others.
"Hard Country is aptly titled, and the reader will take a spectacular journey with real people settling the West. There is inescapable action of the gun, the earth, the sky, and the heart. This is a western that women will love." -- Max Evans, author of The Rounders, The High Lo Country, Madam Millie, and others.
"A compelling and richly imagined epic told by a master storyteller. Michael McGarrity has his finger on the pulse of the Old West and a knack for drawing the reader in. He also has a marvelous way of illuminating the human heart in characters tough and determined enough to stake a claim on a wild and hard country. I didn't want the story to end. It is just that good." --Margaret Coel, author of Buffalo Bill's Dead Now
"As anyone familiar with his excellent crime novels knows, Michael McGarrity really gets-and loves-the Southwest: Its colors, its rhythms, its blessings, its cussedness. Here McGarrity moves back in time to explore New Mexico's frontier past and in the process gives us something most unusual these days: An expansive, lyrical, period Western in the tradition of A.B. Guthrie, Jr. and Larry McMurtry. Savor this one-they don't make cowboy epics like this anymore." --Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder
In the first of a planned trilogy, McGarrity takes a break from his Kevin Kerney mysteries (Dead or Alive) to trace the long history of the Kerney family. In 1875, John Kerney settles on the west Texas plains with optimistic plans to build his Double K ranch brand. However, after the death of his wife during childbirth and the murder of his brother and nephew by thieves, John leaves the ranch and his child behind to hunt the murderers. Though this novel of the old West features cowboys, rustlers, expansive ranches, outlaws, and skirmishes with the Apache, its characters also deal with the shrinking of the frontier as the United States expands into their once-remote territory. VERDICT McGarrity took great care in reviving the old West with accuracy, citing works on cowboy daily life and important historical characters in his author's note. Any readers interested in the Western genre will be delighted by McGarrity's take on harsh frontier life, and loyal fans of detective Kevin Kerney will be excited to see this prequel. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/11.]—Brooke Bolton, North Manchester P.L., IN
Satisfying oater of the old-fashioned--or at least McMurtryesque--school. Nobody ever said that taming the Wild West would be easy. But must it involve rattlesnakes dropping down from the ceiling to share the evening meal? It must if you're hard-bitten John Kerney, who just can't catch a break, even if he can read. His life out on the dusty plains of West Texas is punctuated by his wife's death in childbirth, his brother's murder and too damn many bullets. Enter a helpful stranger who, though he violates the code of taciturnity--"In the brush country of southwest Texas, a man's past was considered his own business, unless he was otherwise inclined to talk about it"--becomes a protector of sorts for Kerney and the son he has had to leave behind. So, too, is another rawhide-tough buckaroo, Cal Doran, who takes no guff himself. Alas, John is not with the narrative for long before other obligations come due, but his son more than takes his place in a narrative that soon becomes very busy, crowded with real-world characters from late 19th-century New Mexico, among them Pat Garrett (the lawman who gunned down Billy the Kid) and Oliver Lee (the rancher "on the east side of the Tularosa" who may or may not have gunned down a neighbor in a feud that still reverberates). There's plenty of period detail in this western by mystery novelist McGarrity (Tularosa, 1996, etc.). There's appropriate language to boot; as a wizened old rancher reflects, for instance, "A waddie looking for work on foot wasn't typical, and the saddle sure didn't show much pride." Yet there's no anachronism one way or another, not too much Walter Brennan-ish gibberish or too many false concessions to modernity. A well-rendered neoclassic tale of the Old West, worthy of a place alongside Lonesome Dove and Sea of Grass.